UPDATE 2-LV Sands sees Singapore casino returns in 5 yrs

* Opens $5.5 bln Singapore casino, world’s second-costliest

* Estimates Marina Bay Sands gross profit above $1 bln/yr

* To provide credit directly to high rollers

* No slowdown in Macau growth for foreseeable future

(Adds details)

By Kevin Lim and Nopporn Wong-Anan

SINGAPORE, April 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N: ) said
it expected to recoup its $5.5 billion investment in the Marina
Bay Sands in five years as it opened the casino on Tuesday,
banking on Asia’s appetite for gambling remaining strong.

The Marina Bay Sands is the second casino to open in
Singapore since it legalised casino gambling in 2005.

Sands, the world’s biggest gaming firm by market
capitalisation, opened the first stage of its complex,
including the casino, about 950 hotel rooms, and part of the
retail and convention space.

The firm, along with U.S. rivals Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O: ) and
MGM-Mirage (MGM.N: ), already have footholds in Macau, which is
now the world’s biggest gambling centre.

The Singapore casino opened at 3:18 p.m. local time (0718
GMT), an auspicious moment as in Cantonese it sounds the same as
“business will prosper”.

Sands said its Singapore casino should generate earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of
more than $1 billion a year, above a range of analysts’
expectations of annual EBITDA of between $300 million and $800
million.

The Sands’ billionaire Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson said
the optimistic forecast was due to Asians’ interest in gambling
and their willingness to place bigger bets than Americans.

“Chinese people see gambling as a form of entertainment,”
Adelson told reporters. “There is enough room in Asia, not just
China but all over Asia, for five to 10 Las Vegas.”

“That is why we expect Singapore to be a grand slam home
run,” he said.

Singapore attracts many visitors from across the region. The
city-state of 5 million people is a private banking hub and has
the highest number of millionaires in the world on a per capita
basis.
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For a preview of Marina Bay Sands [ID:nSGE63P0K2]
For a FACTBOX on the world’s costliest casinos [ID:nSGE63M0F8]

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Many casino operators are banking on Asia for growth as
gaming revenues in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other U.S.
centres decline or show only small growth.

Macau has generally exceeded expectations. Sands recouped
its investment in Sands Macau, the first casino in the Chinese
territory owned by a U.S. operator, in just one year and it said
on Tuesday that it expected the strong growth to continue.

UBS expects Macau, a former Portuguese enclave crammed with
more than 30 casinos and the only place in China where casino
gambling is legal, to generate $20.5 billion in gaming revenue
this year, nearly four times the estimate for Las Vegas.

The casino operator said it hoped to attract 70,000 to
80,000 visitors a day to the Marina Bay Sands, the world’s
second-most expensive casino to build after MGM Mirage’s (MGM.N: )
CityCentre in Las Vegas.

Adelson brushed off concerns that Singapore’s strict rules
regarding junket operators would make it hard for Marina Bay
Sands to attract high rollers, who account for nearly 70 percent
of casino revenue in Macau.

Junket operators provide credit to the players they take on
organised visits to casinos. Some of these operators have been
linked to triads, including a group convicted of conspiracy to
commit bodily harm to a dealer working at Sands Macau casino.
[ID:nN26170872]

“It’s not a system that is seen worldwide. It’s uniquely
Asian and primarily in Macau,” said Adelson, who is also the
firm’s founder and major shareholder. “We don’t have junket reps
in Las Vegas.”

Marina Bay Sands will instead provide credit directly to
high rollers, as it does in Las Vegas, where it has many
visitors from Asia.

When Singapore legalised casino gaming in 2005, it said it
would grant licenses for two giant casinos.

Genting Singapore (GENS.SI: ) was the first group to open a
casino. the $4.8 billion Resorts World at Sentosa, which opened
on Feb. 14 and is still seeing big crowds.

When completed, Marina Bay Sands will have 2,600 hotel
rooms, convention facilities for up to 45,000 delegates,
restaurants run by celebrity chefs and a cantilevered floating
garden perched on top of its 200 metre-high three hotel towers.

Stock Market Trading

($1=1.366 Singapore Dollar)
(Additional reporting by Catherine Trevethan in SINGAPORE and
Sui Lee Wee in HONG KONG; editing by Saeed Azhar and Karen
Foster)

UPDATE 2-LV Sands sees Singapore casino returns in 5 yrs